Reaching For the Stars

Months ago, I listened to a virtual author talk sponsored by the Los Angeles Public Library System. As a bonus, everyone in attendance was eligible to enter a raffle to receive a free copy of one of the author’s books. 

You probably guessed by now that I was lucky enough to win a copy — José M. Hernández’s Reaching For the Stars: The Inspiring Story of a Migrant Farmworker Turned Astronaut

For most of my childhood (fourth grade to eleventh grade), my dream was to become an astronaut. And today I am just as curious, just as awe-struck of those individuals who do become astronauts. 

This week, I’d like to share a few passages that stood out to me during my reading. What really struck me were the supportive words and encouragement the author received from so many members of his family as well as several of his teachers. 

“That is why the individuals who are named José are known as creators. You have the power to create a reality out of your dreams and shape your life accordingly.” Encouraging words spoken by Mr. Hernández’s abuelo. 

I loved reading about Mr. Hernández watching Neil Armstrong on the moon and deciding he wanted to be an astronaut:

“When I heard these words, I felt indescribably shocked. I was captivated by this man, by this science, which left me in awe. Absorbed in the broadcast, I got up abruptly to get closer to the television screen. I had an epiphany. During that exact moment, I discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up: an astronaut, or un astronauta. And from that moment on, I was determined that absolutely nothing would get in the way of my dream.”

And while strapped in and waiting for space shuttle Discovery to launch, Mr. Hernández thought:

“La magia, or magic, is hard to discover, but I believe that passion in the heart and positive thinking in the mind are the two ingredients for achieving something extraordinary. Just ask a scientist, an inventor, or an artist — a simple idea or dream has given birth to some of our history’s greatest inventions.”

You can also learn more about Mr. Hernández and his Reaching for the Stars Foundation by clicking here. A Netflix film is being planned about Mr. Hernández’s life and journey into space. 

The Hill We Climb

A year ago there was a moment in time when I was thankful for the pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, my husband was working from home and my son was participating in Zoom school. Because of the pandemic we were all at home, all able to hold hands and witness together the historic Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. 

I don’t remember much of the speeches from that day. But I do remember a strong feeling of reassurance. The feeling you get when the teacher is back in the classroom instead of an inexperienced substitute who has poor classroom management skills.

And I absolutely do remember Amanda Gorman. I remember her yellow jacket and her red headband. I remember her poise and presence. And I remember the delivery of her powerful words. Words that seemed to envelope us all, and remind us of all that is good and possible. Words that made me feel we were on the road to being okay. 

As Oprah Winfrey writes in the foreword of this collectible gift edition, “Everyone who watched came away enhanced with hope and marveling at seeing the best of who we are and can be through the eyes and essence of a twenty-two-year-old, our country’s youngest presidential inaugural poet.”

When I recently re-read The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem For the Country, I was just as awestruck as I was the first time. If you haven’t re-visited Ms. Gorman’s powerful Inaugural Poem, I highly recommend it. This is a book which forever will find a home on my bookshelf, and years from now, will be passed on to younger generations.

As Ms. Gorman writes:

“But one thing is certain:

If we merge mercy with might, and might

  with right,

Then love becomes our legacy,

And change, our children’s birthright.”

Life Glows On

The first book I finished reading in 2022 is Claire Cook’s nonfiction book Life Glows On: Reconnecting With Your Creativity to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life.

It’s a book about acknowledging all the ways we express ourselves creatively. It’s also about acknowledging the need for, and the benefits of, dedicating time and energy to a creative project.

I love Ms. Cook’s definition of creativity:

“Creativity is the box of crayons we use to tell our story, and in telling our story we figure out who we are.” 

And I love this recommendation:

“Every day, do one good thing. And after that, give yourself permission to do one creative thing for yourself.” 

Then there’s this bit of motivation:

“Being creative is about touching hearts. It’s about finding our own heart. It’s about tapping into our past and remembering the unique experiences and insights that make us who we are. It’s about flipping our adversity and challenges and experiences into a point of view, a vision, a style, a voice. It’s about standing strong in our authenticity and individuality and distinctiveness.”

I also enjoyed this paragraph about one of the benefits of getting older:

“Because the coolest thing about getting older is that we really can just be whoever the hell we want to be. If we’re lucky, we’ve stopped caring so much about pleasing the rest of the world. Nobody can tell us who we are. Or who we aren’t.”

The #22in22 Initiative

Since this is my first post in 2022, I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about the #22in22 Initiative started by Zibby Books.

Here’s what you need to know:

The idea behind #22in22 is to visit 22 bookstores in 2022. Physically visit (if you’re able) twenty-two bookstores. This can be twenty-two different bookstores, or maybe you just visit your top three bookstores multiple times this year.

Your visits are a way to support bookstores and books. And by extension, you’re supporting authors and booksellers and everyone who works to get books on shelves.

You can sign up at (it’s super easy), and each time you visit a bookstore, return to the website to log your visits. There are different incentives you can earn along the way. But really you’re doing it for yourself (because a visit to a bookstore is a great way to spend part of a day) and the larger book community.

The #22in22 Initiative started on Small Business Saturday, so I got a head start and have logged two visits so far:

Village Well Books and Coffee


My local Barnes and Noble

Let’s get reading!!! 

Here’s to a healthy, safe, peaceful, book-filled new year!